Shaxi Friday Market Posted by sasha on Jan 26, 2016 in Culture
As I mentioned in the post about the Ancient Town of Shaxi, there’s a great outdoor market that goes on every Friday. Yunnan is one of the most diverse provinces in all of China, second only to Xinjiang in terms of how many ethnic minority groups are represented – there are 47 in Xinjiang and 25 in Yunnan. In Shaxi, the two main ethnic groups are the Bai (白族 – bái zú) and Yi (彝族- yí zú) people. Although they live close together and are all technically Chinese, the ethnic minority groups have distinct languages and cultures – oftentimes people on opposite sides of a mountain speak an entirely different language.
Once upon a time, the town was a large market place every day, as it was an important stop on the Old Tea Horse Caravan Road. These days the market only goes on once a week, which makes it a big deal for people living in the surrounding villages. Every Friday, people will trek down from their mountainous villages to the town, dressed in their colorful, traditional clothing, leading pack mules, and carrying large baskets on their back. Just about everything is for sale at the Friday market – fresh produce, meat, fish, daily items, and even electronics. You can even get a wig made or see a dentist on the side of the street. Walking through the market is quite the experience, and is tons of fun for photographers. Here’s a glimpse into this traditional Yunnan marketplace through my lens:
Experiencing the Friday market is definitely a highlight of visiting Shaxi, so be sure to plan your visit accordingly. It starts in the morning between 9-10, and things usually wind down by about 2.
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